In December 1973, beauty was born on New York’s Upper East Side when Anushka Blau opened the Anushka Petite Salon. This year, Blau, owner of the famous West Palm Beach Anushka Spa, Salon and Cosmedical Centre, is celebrating more than 40 years in the business of beauty. PBI.com caught up with Anushka to discuss the past, present and future of the spa, salon and cosmetic industry.
PBI.com: When and how did you first enter the spa, salon and cosmetic industry?
Anushka: I grew up loving the art of beauty and aesthetics. As a young girl, my father, a successful film industry executive, took me along to movie houses where I admired on-screen muses of the day like Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. In my late teens, I submerged myself into the cosmetology field, studying under the guidance of celebrated Argentinean makeup artist Cesar de Combi, a renowned Hollywood theatrical makeup artist.
I moved to New York City in the mid 1960s and began working for a now well known, emerging cosmetic firm. After 10 successful years in the industry, I switched my focus to the number one aesthetic concern for women of all ages: cellulite. I became impassioned with inner beauty, health, body sculpting and nutrition. I traveled abroad exploring effective cellulite and body-sculpting techniques that were not yet being used in the states. Dr. Robert Wallis, a world renowned, New York-based French physician who had used these techniques before, guided me on my journey. Under his direction and supervision, I opened the Anushka Petite Salon in December 1973 on New York’s Upper East Side and created a signature 10-treatment program.
What services did you initially offer?
When we opened, we only offered spa treatments focusing mainly on cellulite procedures as well as other relaxing and rejuvenating treatments like facials, massages, manicures and pedicures. We offered manual and mechanical treatments including EMS, ultrasound, paraffin and mud wraps, lymphatic drainage, thigh contouring massage and nutritional guidance. When I look back, I realize now more than ever how innovative we were in the industry.
When did you open your spa in Palm Beach County?
In 2001, we decided to expand into South Florida, following the flow of our clientele. The newfound allowance of space, outside of New York City, enabled a level of expansion we had always dreamed of. It was then that we added salon services (hair), our cosmedical centre (non-invasive medical procedures) and, later, the retail vertical.
How have you seen the beauty industry change?
Our awareness of how to take care of ourselves has changed dramatically. Part of being beautiful today includes taking care of your skin, hair and body, including health and fitness. In the 1970s, people had limited information and did not understand the damaging effects of the sun, smoking and product ingredients. With the information [now] at hand, the Anushka brand…chooses not to use a number of ingredients such as parabens, propylene glycol, cocoamide, DEA, phthalates, BHA and BHT, which we know now to be harmful and are found in many household beauty products.
How has the Anushka brand managed to stay relevant over the years?
Keeping up with technology and staying innovative is important to us, especially as new beauty and de-aging treatments are emerging at an incredible pace. We also believe in educating our clients on what we are learning. One way we do that is by offering a monthly Beauty Brunch, hosted by medical-grade companies such as iS Clinical, SkinMedica and Latisse, to name a few, where we talk about what is happening in the industry.
What has been your guiding business philosophy?
Follow your passions and dreams. Strive for that feeling of success felt within yourself, which is the same positive energy that gives you powerful self-esteem, assurance and pride. Today, my ultimate goal is for every client to walk away from her spa experience feeling beautiful, serene and with a refreshed sense of well being.
What’s the most important beauty tip you pass along to spa patrons?
I have worked with thousands of women, many of whom have wanted to make profound changes to themselves, whether it was their hair color, their body shape or with anti-aging injectables. At Anushka, we pride ourselves on being beauty advisors. Beauty should be in balance—don’t overdo it! There are appropriate treatments for every age. And always, always consult with the experts.
What industry trends are you currently excited about?
The personal care product industry is going through a revolution. We are becoming acutely more aware of the ingredients that are in our hair and skin-care products. Some companies are pioneering safer, organic formulations that react with our bodies better. While there is a long way to go, I do believe that this avenue of beauty—using more natural, safer ingredients—will have a profound effect on the industry as a whole in the coming years.